Terence Crawford to fight on April 20 in New York
By Chris Williams: Top Rank promoter Bob Arum says Terence Crawford will be defending his WBO welterweight title against an opponent still to be determined on April 20, according to ESPN. Arum says he’s close to finalizing Crawford’s fight, and he says it’s a “very interesting” fight if it comes off. The fight will be taking place in New York at Madison Square Garden.
The 31-year-old Crawford’s rumored opponent for the April 20th date is former IBF/WBA light welterweight champion Amir ‘King’ Khan (33-4, 20 KOs). The British fighter Khan is said to have received a big offer to take the fight with Crawford. Khan wants to fight for a world title at welterweight before facing Kell Brook in the UK in a stadium match.
With Khan’s popularity in Britain, it doesn’t matter if he loses to Crawford. A fight between him and Brook will still sell. However, Khan’s promoter Eddie Hearn of Matchroom Boxing would much prefer that he face Brook next rather than Crawford. Hearn is concerned that Khan will lessen the appeal of his fight with Brook if he takes the fight with Crawford. If Khan beats Crawford, then it would obviously make the Brook fight bigger, but most boxing fans believe that he’ll lose to the American. In that case, Khan would be hurting the interest from the UK public in his fight with Brook.
The combination of the money that Khan can make and the chance of capturing a world title at 147 against a top pound-for-pound fighter has him very interested in fighting the unbeaten Crawford next. Brook is undefeated, and isn’t thought of in the same regard as Crawford is right now. Brook, however, took more risks with his career than Crawford has in fighting former middleweight champion Gennady Golovkin and Errol Spence Jr. Crawford hasn’t fought those kind of talents. As good as Crawford is, he likely would lose to both Golovkin and Spence if he chose to risk his neck fighting them the way Brook did.
“Crawford’s going to fight on the 20th of April. Who he fights, I know,” Arum said to ESPN.com “It’s being finalized…it’ll be a very, very interesting fight.”
The fact that Arum is having Crawford fight outside of his home state of Nebraska is a signal that it’s a fairly big name. You’re probably not going to get one of the popular fighters in the welterweight to agree to come to Nebraska to fight Crawford in his hometown of Omaha.
Arum doesn’t want to say the name of the opponent for fear that it’ll potentially foul up the negotiations, but he’s clearly excited about the fight. If it is the 32-year-old Khan as Crawford’s opponent, then the fight would likely wind up on ESPN pay-per-view. Khan is considered a big name in the welterweight division despite the fact that he’s done very little in the weight class since moving up from 140 in 2013. In his five fights since moving up to 147 in 2013, Khan has fought beatable fighters in Julio Diaz, Samuel Vargas, Chris Algieri, Luis Collazo and Devon Alexander. For some reason, Khan hasn’t fought the lion’s at welterweight in the last six years since moving up in weight. That could change if Khan faces the Top Rank promoted Crawford. It would be a good fight in terms of interest from the boxing world, but it wouldn’t be a case of Crawford fighting the best. This isn’t a knock on Khan, but he’s not considered to be in the elite class at welterweight like Errol Spence Jr., Shawn Porter, Keith ‘One Time’ Thurman, Manny Pacquiao, Crawford and Danny Garcia.
As far as fan interest from the U.S boxing public, they would much prefer to see Khan fight the well known Crawford than they would British fighter Kell Brook. It’s not that Crawford is necessarily a better fighter than Brook, because we don’t know who would win a fight between those two. It’s more of a situation where the casual boxing fans in the States know Crawford more than they do Brook.
With his hand speed, size and flashy fighting style, Khan will make it interesting for the first six rounds before fatigue sets in against Crawford. If this were a six round fight, Crawford would be in serious trouble, because he’s not that fast, and he doesn’t put his punches together. Crawford is counter puncher, who looks to place his counter shots well. Crawford has some punching power, but it’s not as devastating as it was when he was fighting at 140. The boxing fans don’t know how good Crawford was when he was the unified 140 lb champion.
Top Rank didn’t match Crawford against any of the talented fighters in the light welterweight division when he was fighting in that class. Crawford won his four titles at 140 in beating Julius Indongo [IBF & WBA], Thomas Dulorme [WBO] and Viktor Postol [WBC]. Those guys aren’t in the picture among the top fighters at light welterweight nowadays. The top guys now are Regis Prograis, Maurice Hooker, Jose Ramirez, Ivan Baranchyk and Kiryl Relikh. Crawford would a much tougher time trying to beat those guys than he did in winning his four titles in defeating Postol, Indongo and Dulorme. Crawford moved out of the light welterweight division at the right time just when it was heating up. Crawford would have had questions asked of him in facing the talented guys that hold belts at 140 now. Even some of the contenders at light welterweight like Josh Taylor would present a lot of problems for Crawford.
Crawford moved up in weight to the welterweight division in 2018, and beat fellow Top Rank fighter Jeff Horn to win the WBO 147 pound title last summer on June 9, and then Jose Benavidez last October. Crawford struggled in beating Benavidez. Although Crawford stopped Benavidez in the twelfth round, it was not an easy fight for him by any stretch of the imagination. The fight showed that Crawford is not the same fighter at 147 as he was at 140, and it showed that he’s getting older and his reflexes aren’t the same. Crawford is getting hit a lot more at 147 than he did at 140. Since Crawford never fought any of the talented fighters at 140 in winning his four belts, we don’t know whether his lackluster performance against Benavidez is a product of him being exposed as not being as good as boxing fans thought he was or a case of him aging and fighting in a weight class that isn’t as well suited for him as the 140 lb division was. Crawford doesn’t look as strong at 147 as he did fighting at light welterweight division.
Khan would be the first big test for Crawford at 147 if this fight comes off. Benavidez was never considered a top elite level guy at 140 or 147. He struggled in beating journeyman Mauricio Herrera in winning a controversial 12 round decision. The rest of the guys Benavidez had fought were marginal fighters. Crawford struggling to defeat Benavidez showed the boxing world that he’s not in the same class as IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. That’s the fight that the fans want to see, but it’s also one that has very little chance of ever happening due to the two champions fighting on different networks, and having different management that rarely work with each other.
Although some boxing fans feel that Crawford should be #1 in the pound-for-pound rankings, his level of opposition hasn’t been good enough for him to be given such a prestigious honor. When you have a fighter whose best career wins were against lesser guys, it makes it difficult to put them at #1. Crawford’s best career wins have come against these fighters: Yuriorkis Gamboa, Jeff Horn, John Molina Jr., Ricky Burns, Dierry Jean, Felix Diaz, Julius Indongo, Viktor Postol, Jose Benavidez Jr., Hank Lundy, Thomas Dulorme and Raymundo Beltran. With that group of fighters as Crawford’s best win, it makes it difficult to take him seriously as a top pound-for-pound guy, as he appears to have been carefully matched against guys that would likely beaten by all of the top fighters at 140 and 147 right now. If Regis Prograis, Errol Spence Jr. Shawn Porter and Keith Thurman fought the same fighters that Crawford had fought, it’s easy to picture them beating all of them, and looking better than Crawford did in beating them. Sometimes the pound-for-pound ratings are meaningless, as they don’t account for level of opposition for the fighters that are often at the top of the rankings.